Staying mindful of this busy holiday season, this week we’re reviewing Total Workout in Ten! from Women’s Health magazine. Even when we’re super busy, we can find ten minutes to work out, yeah?
Instructor Amy Dixon is warm and encouraging, if a little prone to punctuating all her sentences with “Yeah?” at the end. Her instruction is laced with both humor and inspiration, and she’s fast becoming one of my favorite instructors.
The main workout on this DVD has 4 segments led by instructor Dixon: cardio, lower body strength training, upper body strength training, and balance/flexibility. Each segment is approximately 10 minutes, for a total workout of 40 minutes, although the lower body is slightly shorter, and the cardio is slightly longer.
The cardio and strength training segments are exactly what you would expect them to be, but the balance/flexibility segment deserves a little bit more explanation. You would assume a balance and flexibility segment would focus on yoga poses, and there certainly are some here, but there’s also some slow-ish cardio moves designed to improve flexibility, and a lot of balancing on one foot.
Yoga has plenty of balance poses too, but they are generally stationary. In tree pose, for example, you lift one foot up on to your other leg, and then you just stand there. Dixon focuses on balance in motion. Her track star pose has you move one leg forward and backward, as though you were running, but without that foot touching the ground at either point. It was different, challenging, and fun.
There is also a 12-minute Core Power bonus workout on the DVD, which uses a balance ball to work the abs and back. This too was challenging, but it was one of the easier to follow balance ball workouts I’ve tried, thanks to Dixon’s clear instruction.
Of all the DVD instructors I’ve tried to follow, Dixon is by far the best at cuing. She clearly tells you what’s coming up ahead of time, she counts down to when you start the move, and then she actually starts the move at that time! Then she clearly counts out the reps while you’re doing the exercise.
Dixon includes a lot of complex exercises in these workout segments … but complex in the sense that they use a lot of different muscle groups, not that they involve complicated choreography. She also frequently incorporates variations on the moves, to use the muscles in a slightly different way.
Some of the moves are just referred to by name, so the first time you go through the workout, it may take a rep or two until you get the hang of it. In some of the 10-minute segments, she spends the first five minutes on one side, and then repeats the whole sequence on the other side; the moves definitely seem more familiar on the second time through.
The biggest disappointment of this workout is that while they had one exerciser doing modifications throughout, Dixon rarely mentioned it when there was a beginner modification option for a move. On the occasions where she did instruct us to “watch Beth for the modification”, Beth was often not even in the camera shot. It was frustrating to know there was a beginner modification available, but not be able to see it.
Despite the 10-minute segment concept, these four segments were clearly intended to be used all together. The cardio segment functions as a warm-up, you do the two strength training segments, and then the balance/flexibility segment functions as a cooldown.
I shamelessly broke all the rules, since this is a pretty tough workout to do in its entirety. On some days I would do the cardio and the flexibility; on other days I would march in place briefly to warm up, then do one of the strength training segments and wrap up with the flexibility segment again.
If you’ve only got ten or twenty minutes to work out, you want to make every minute count, and Total Workout In Ten! certainly fits the bill. Amy Dixon packs a ton of challenging and effective exercises into a short amount of time. This workout’s a winner, yeah?